Stephen Ireland's career has taken another sad turn following developments at Bolton Wanderers

Stoke City v Hull City - Premier League

Stephen Ireland was a more than handy player in his day.

The Irish midfielder spent five years at Manchester City before leaving for Aston Villa in an exchange deal for James Milner.

Ireland is still remembered fondly at the Etihad though, especially after scoring nine goals in the 2008/09 season.

Sadly, after City became a financial superpower overnight, Ireland struggled to nail down a regular spot in the first team, despite putting in some fine performances for the Sky Blues.

As a result, he was shipped off to Villa.

After a rather uninspiring time at the Birmingham club Ireland was then moved on to Stoke City where he would spend seven seasons.

His time at Stoke, however, would prove to be of little improvement as the attacking midfielder managed just four goals in seven long seasons at the club before they were relegated last season.

Ireland simply was unable to make an impact and turn a game the way he could while at City and Stoke suffered because of it.

As if relegation wasn’t enough, Ireland was then released by the Potters and floated about as a free agent for a concerning amount of time.

Manchester City v Portland Timbers

Thankfully, salvation came in the form of Bolton Wanderers for the 32-year-old after the Championship side secured his services.

However, Ireland’s time at Bolton has simply failed to launch and he has made just one solitary appearance for the club’s under 23's.

He hasn’t got anywhere near the first team though and now, his career, already teetering on the edge, has reached a new low.

That appearance for the under 23's will be the one and only time Ireland turns out in the shirt after being released by the club today by ‘mutual consent’.

Stoke City v Burnley - Premier League

Ireland simply wasn’t capable of securing a first-team place and the cash-strapped side - also languishing way down in 23rd in the Championship - simply had no other option but to end their relationship with the midfielder.

Ireland really had a lot of potential to become a fantastic footballer while at City and it is sad to see what has become of him at just 32-years of age.

The Premier League can be a cruel place sometimes and Ireland’s decline proves that.

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